Dec. 16, 2004 • Volume 13 Numbe r8
University Exploring Merger With Weston Jesuit School
Boston College is discussing a possible merger with the Cambridge-based Weston Jesuit School of Theology, a move that would boost the University's already considerable Jesuit community and enhance its resources in Catholic and Jesuit theology.
The two institutions acknowledged their formal negotiations in media interviews earlier this month, describing the talks as serious but preliminary. A decision is expected by next June.
If approved, Weston Jesuit would become part of a new school of theology and ministry at Boston College and would be located in St. William's Hall on the University's new Brighton Campus, which comprises property purchased last summer from the Archdiocese of Boston. Included in the proposed new school would be the BC Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry and the Church in the 21st Century project's on-line adult education programs.
BC's use of St. William's Hall and other buildings on the 43-acre campus must be approved by the City of Boston, and the University expects to announce a master plan for the land next year.
In addition to the institutions' trustees, the merger would require the approval of the Jesuit Superior General Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, and would likely take place no earlier than September of 2006.
In an interview, Weston Jesuit School of Theology President Robert Manning, SJ, said, "Every freestanding theological school is fragile, either from the point of view of finances or enrollment or church support, and even though we're in good financial shape now, that danger is always down the line, so consolidation really would guarantee our future."
Said University President William P. Leahy, SJ, "Weston's faculty would enhance the already strong theological offerings of Boston College, helping us to become one of the foremost centers of Jesuit, Catholic intellectual thought. We want to carry out our mission as Jesuits, and this merger would certainly help us to do that."
Founded in 1922 as Weston College, Weston Jesuit is one of two Jesuit theology schools in the United States and has approximately 240 students enrolled. Weston Jesuit was affiliated with BC from 1959-74 and the two institutions have had frequent and ongoing collaborations, such as co-administering a doctoral program in Christian ethics. The school moved from Weston to the Episcopal Divinity School campus in Cambridge in 1968 and to its present location in Harvard Square in 1972.
Weston Jesuit offers master's degree programs in theological studies, divinity and theology, as well as a master of arts in spiritual direction, licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate in sacred theology.
Since 1956, Weston Jesuit has published New Testament Abstracts, a research and bibliographic aid for scholars, librarians, clergy, and students of the New Testament and its historical milieu. Every year NTA abstracts at least 2,150 articles chosen from more than 500 periodicals in numerous languages. Nearly 850 current books are also summarized annually. -Office of Public Affairs staff •